Once Upon a Time In…Hollywood (2019)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5

USA//, 2019, , , Screenplay by Cinematography by Produced by , , Quentin Tarantino.  Music by Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by .

Eternal wunderkind Quentin Tarantino returns to the revisionist history that brought him so much success with Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, this time treating us to a fairy tale that encompasses an era of show business he has referenced a good deal in his past works.  Leonardo DiCaprio is excellent as an aging star whose best days on a western television series are behind him, now trying to be content with the occasional one-off appearance as a villain on television shows. Keeping himself from sinking into despair is difficult, but he gets help from his stunt man, played by a dazzling Brad Pitt, who drives him around and offers ego-boosting encouragement while he’s at it. Next door to DiCaprio, filmmaker Roman Polanski, hot off the success of Rosemary’s Baby, has moved in with his beautiful actress wife Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), whose bright and luminous personality is the emotional anchor of this surprisingly touching movie. It’s hard to discuss the charm of the plot without giving anything away, but it appears that what Tarantino is proposing is the possibility that this period that he feels such affection for could have lasted longer if one devastating event, the one considered to have more or less ended the sixties, hadn’t happened. To do this, however, he needs to set up an elaborate story involving his fictional characters and use them to switch the train of history onto a different track, and he does this brilliantly: showing off his seemingly effortless command of plot structure, Tarantino delivers a collection of vignettes that include DiCaprio’s on-set experiences, Pitt’s exploration of a suspicious hippie commune outside of town (which is one of the best sequences in the movie) and Tate’s taking a day to run an important errand, taking in Tinseltown while brimming with hope and happiness, confident in her anticipation of the success she is sure to expect.  It’s a smooth ride through a Tinseltown of yesteryear, sometimes warmly nostalgic and other times sharp and unforgiving, but always bewitching.

Academy Awards:  Best Supporting Actor (Brad Pitt); Best Production Design
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio); Best Director (Quentin Tarantino); Best Original Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Best Costume Design; Best Sound Mixing; Best Sound Editing

Cannes Film Festival In Competition

Golden Globe Awards:  Best Picture-Musical/Comedy; Best Supporting Actor (Brad Pitt); Best Screenplay
Nominations: Best Actor-Musical/Comedy (Leonardo DiCaprio); Best Director (Quentin Tarantino)

Screen Actors Guild Award:  Best Supporting Male (Brad Pitt)
Nominations: Outstanding Motion Picture Cast; Best Male Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio); Best Stunt Ensemble

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